This Psalm is pure gospel from beginning to end, for it celebrates the glories of Jesus, as the Monarch of his people, and of heaven and earth. Under the spirit of prophecy, and with an eye to Christ, the sacred writer of it expresseth his astonishment at the incarnation of Jesus, and then soars in the loftiest strains of adoration and joy at his wonderful glory.
To the chief Musician upon Gittith. A Psalm of David.
Some have conjectured that Gittith means the tune to which this Psalm was sung. Others have supposed that Gittith is the same as Gittite, meaning Goliath the Gittite, in allusion to David's victory over Goliath of Gath, to whom David, in comparison of size, was but as one of those whom the Psalm celebrates, as giving forth praise out of the mouth of babes and sucklings. But if the dedication of it be (as hath been before observed, Ps 4.) to one infinitely higher than the chief musician in the temple service, it should seem that this would be more in correspondence to the divine truths of the gospel expressed through every part of it. Let these things, however, be as they may, the several scriptures which refer to this Psalm so decidedly explain it upon the principles of the gospel, that the most ordinary reader cannot but be led to observe how much it treats of Jesus and his glories. The apostle to the Hebrews, in the second chapter, fully shows that not man in general, but the man Christ Jesus in particular, and him only, is the person to whom all power is given in heaven and in earth. Hebrews 2:6-10. And, as if this was not enough, our Lord Jesus himself made a complete application of this Psalm to his own person and glory, in his conversation with the chief Priests and Scribes. Matthew 21:15-16. These are sufficient considerations to interest our hearts, as we enter upon the perusal of this most blessed Psalm. Reader! may you and I, as we go over it, have our souls led out in divine contemplation of the surpassing glory of our Lord Jesus, who is here so sweetly celebrated as the King and Head of his church and people. Oh! for such a portion of his blessed Spirit to be upon the mind both of writer and reader, that while we behold what he did for us, when he was made a little lower than the angels, we may find faith in his finished salvation, and trust in him that he is and will be our Jesus still, now that he is exalted above all height; angels, principalities, and powers, being made subject unto him!
If we read this verse according to the authority we have to read it, where the word Lord, when translated in capitals, means Jehovah, and where the same word Lord, in smaller letters, means Adonai, then it will be beautiful indeed for then the expression carries with it the Lord Jehovah as beheld in a covenant way in Christ. Oh! how excellent is this. Oh! how truly hath Jehovah exalted his glory, even in the person of the Lord of glory, Christ Jesus, far above all heavens. 1 Corinthians 2:8.
The best of all comments on this blessed verse is what Jesus himself hath given, Matthew 21:15-16. And as in the person of our glorious Head, so in the instance of all his redeemed, how is the praise of Jehovah perfected, when babes in Christ are brought out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God's dear Son? How is the accursed enemy and the avenger overthrown and discomfited in the instance of every poor sinner made willing in the day of God's power. Here surely the prey is taken from the mighty, and the lawful captive delivered. Isaiah 49:24-25.
The Psalmist is here lost in admiration. He contemplates the heavenly bodies, those bright luminaries the moon and the stars. He doth not notice the sun; probably it was night when this meditation on the starry sky was taken. And while he considered these vast powers of God's creation, he is lost in wonder in recollecting the mercies of redemption. And it should seem particularly with an eye to the great Maker condescending to become man. It is not that he who made so magnificent a world condescended to look upon man, for man, as the work of his hands, was an object for the great Creator to regard, as much and as highly, had it pleased his infinite mind, as any other work of his power. They who would interpret the passage in this sense, certainly overlook the great beauty of it. But the wonder of all wonders, and which the sacred writer is here contemplating, is, that God himself, in one person of the Godhead, should pass by the nature of angels, and take upon him the seed of Abraham. Hebrews 2:16. Most evidently it is this one, this identical Man, whose nature, united to the Godhead, forms the glorious Mediator, which the Psalmist is here contemplating, and concerning whom he thus breaks out in wonder, love, and praise.
These verses come in with greater fulness, to explain and to confirm what went before: how the Son of God was made a little, or for a little space, lower than the angels, during his incarnation and ministry upon earth. For, as the Covenant-head of his church and people, he was before all things, and by him all things did consist, consequently he was above angels. His goings forth were of old, from everlasting. He was the first born of every creature, saith the apostle, the image of the invisible God, the appointed heir of all things, and by whom God made the worlds. Now all these can only refer to Christ as Mediator, both God and man in one Person. His name, Mediator, is suited to both his natures, and not separate from either, but in the union of both forming one Christ. Hence the Psalmist, in contemplating the wonders of redemption, and by such a wonderful way, thus exclaims, What is man, that thou art mindful of him!
It is worthy of remark, that when, at the original creation, the first man was invested with sovereignty in his state of innocency, the grant of dominion ran in those words, Genesis 1:28. How delightful it is to see that sovereignty regained in the person of him who, by his wonderful undertaking, hath restored all things, and to whom all power is given in heaven and in earth. Matthew 28:18-19.
The Psalmist, after reciting the wonders of redemption in the person of him by whom all things are restored, makes a beautiful response to his own first exclamation of wonder and praise, and again extols Jehovah in the covenant mercies of redemption, as the object of adoration through all the earth. Hail, Lord of all! blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and to him that was slain and now liveth forever. Amen.
MY SOUL! pause over the wonders contained in this hymn of praise. Let him have all thy praise, and to him be all the glory offered, whom Jehovah delighted to honor. Contemplate Jesus the Mediator. Behold him set up from everlasting. See his goings forth for the salvation of his people. Trace the footsteps of his mercy in all that long train of revelations concerning him, when his name was secret, and when he stood forth in covenant engagements, but yet not having tabernacled in substance of our flesh, the Mediator of his people. Behold how he longed for the fulness of time to come, when he should become sin for his people, that his people might be made the righteousness of God in him. Wherefore, precious Jesus, (suffer me to ask thee) wherefore didst thou so often assume a visible appearance, when all the while to us thy name was secret; and wherefore didst thou present thyself before thy redeemed sometimes as a man, and sometimes as an angel? Was it not that, by such palpable testimonies, thou mightest show how much thou didst love thy church, thy spouse, the poor ruined nature of man? And wherefore was it, O thou Holy One of God! that thou didst thus manifest thyself otherwise than thou dost to the world, but to testify what a longing desire thou hadst to the work of redemption, which the Father gave thee to do, and which thou didst voluntarily undertake for the salvation of thy chosen? Oh! well may every redeemed soul cry out with the Prophet, What is man, that thou art mindful of him; or the son of man, that thou visitest him? And wherefore is it now, dearest Lord, that since all power is thine in heaven and in earth, that thou still condescendest to regard the humblest, the poorest of thy people, but to show, equally so, that no change of place hath made any change in thine heart and thy love towards them. Having loved thine own which are in the world, thou lovest them unto the end. Oh! for grace, that this love, this favor, this mercy, this good will, may be carried in the rich streams of it from thy heart into mine. Oh! for grace to bow the knee, the whole soul, and body, and spirit, before thee, and to praise Jesus, who is the supreme Monarch of all creation. Oh! for grace to join this hymn of praise, and to sing aloud, with all the redeemed both in heaven and in earth, O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name throughout the world, and whose glory is above the heavens!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Psalms 8". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://pro.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29